After his impressive performance in the recently-concluded Olympiad, Gukesh has earned himself a break.
But his coach Vishnu Prasanna, Thursday, said that he’ll play in the Turkish League beginning August 15.
“It has 13 rounds. He’ll play some of those. We haven’t thought about anything except the Turkish League for now.”
Gukesh has always wanted to keep playing and Prasanna has “never stopped him.” But he adds that his ward would not be hereafter playing as much as he used to.
“There won’t be enough opens for him to play. Opens would not make sense after this. So, he would be playing in leagues and whatever invites he gets in the closed events.”
Speaking about the takeaways from the 16-year-old’s Olympiad showing, he said: “Happy with his precision and level of play. We would focus on and try to improve his physical fitness so that he can endure the long rounds. Equalising better against (Fabiano) Caruana, and troubling (Shakhriyar) Mamedyarov more with white - both of these are fairly important."
“I was very happy with his wins against (Alexei) Shirov and Caruana. In the game against Caruana, though not the most impressive, he was very resourceful. That’s typical of Gukesh. And it is to me a very good thing that he was able to do it even against Caruana. He’s done it a lot at the lower level, but even against Caruana, he was resourceful enough. And beating Shirov with black is no easy challenge.”
He said the loss against Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan) was “painful” for both him and Gukesh, and added that his student should learn to be “dispassionate about what he wants.”
“It was a mistake to not take the draw. He tries to play the best move always and that’s caused him some practical difficulties.”
Prasanna, who's been coaching Gukesh since 2017, exclaimed the latter was “a lot disciplined and matured for an 11-year-old” when he first came to him.
“I knew he was talented. But I couldn’t predict how far he would go. I’m not surprised that he has gone this far. But the real challenge lies ahead."
“He had a lot of positional sense which young kids usually don’t have; they play for tricks. He had very fine positional sense and he rarely played for tricks. These are things which are hard to teach very early.”
He added that now Gukesh is more aggressive and "plays for dynamic positions." Gukesh is an avid reader and Boris Gelfand's books are something that the master and pupil have discussed a lot.
On Gukesh and other contemporary Indian players breaching the 2700 Elo mark, he said, “He (Gukesh) had a series of wins and had a very good six months (before the Olympiad). So, he has had that momentum to cross 2700. And psychologically he was very healthy - an important reason."
“There are a lot of Indians who went even up to 2670-80, but never crossed 2700 in their lives. I think the approach - for how to get to the top - is a little bit more clear now than, say, ten years ago. There wasn’t much exposure to the players then. Very few achieved that kind of exposure."
“Now, young players get a lot of access to top-level play. Most of these kids have played Magnus (Carlsen) in an online event or something like that.”